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Getting Started with Heptabase

Welcome to the first beginner's tutorial of Heptabase!

The core purpose of Heptabase is to help you learn and conduct research more effectively, enabling you to develop a deep understanding of the topics that matter to you.

In Heptabase, there are three core concepts that are particularly important. They are:

Once you have grasped these three concepts, you have already mastered the essence of Heptabase and can begin your learning and research. Below, I will elaborate on each concept one by one.

Card​

Card

A card is your note, as well as a container for knowledge and ideas. You can type / to add any types of blocks you want: headings, lists, to-dos, toggles, tables, images, audio, videos, files, PDFs, code snippets, math equations, and dates.

At Heptabase, all cards are stored in the Card Library.

card library

When learning a new topic, you may create cards with just a few sentences, each describing an important concept. However, as you delve deeper into your learning, you may find yourself creating cards with longer content, some even resembling articles or documents.

At Heptabase, cards can mention each other, and you can see how they are referenced by other cards in the card’s info section. All these interconnected cards together form your knowledge network.

mention cards

Whiteboard​

whiteboard

Every whiteboard is a thinking space for you. You can think of it as an infinite desktop where you can place cards.

The purpose of a whiteboard is to help you learn or research a topic you care about. You can create many different whiteboards to research different topics, and these whiteboards will collectively form your knowledge map.

map

One unique design of Heptabase is that whiteboards don’t own your cards. All the cards belong to the Card Library. When you are conducting topic research on a whiteboard, you can import cards from the Card Library and place them on the whiteboard to think. You can also create new cards on a whiteboard, and these cards will be directly saved to the Card Library.

import cards

At Heptabase, a card can be placed in multiple whiteboards at the same time. For example, the "Einstein" card can be placed in both the "History of Science" and "World War II" whiteboards, just like how our brain works - the same concept or knowledge can be reused under different topics.

reuse cards

reused cards

When you find a card in the Card Library, you can see in the card’s Info section which whiteboards the card appears on. If you click on a whiteboard name, it will automatically open the whiteboard and focus on the location of the card, allowing you to easily recall the thinking context of the card.

card info

Heptabase's whiteboard offers many advanced features to assist you in learning, including creating sections for multiple cards, organizing cards into mindmaps, creating nested whiteboards within the whiteboard, and more. We will introduce these features in the advanced tutorials.

Tag​

tags

Tags are a classification system that groups similar cards and assigns properties to them.

For example, let's say you have a meeting every week. You can create a tag #meetings and add it to all the cards containing meeting notes. Additionally, you can add properties such as "date" and "conclusion" for all cards under the #meetings tag.

At Heptabase, you can click on Tags in the left sidebar to see all your tags, and click on the "New Tag" button to add a new tag. When adding a new tag, you can choose to use either the table or kanban view as the default view for cards under that tag.

tags-2

add-a-new-tag

In addition to adding new tags, you can also click the "New Group" button to create groups for organizing your tags. For example, you can put the tags #meetings and #work-reports into the "Work" group, and the tags #blog-articles and #tax-returns into the "Life" group.

new-tag-group

If you want to add a tag to an existing card, simply use the shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + T.

add-a-tag-to-an-existing-card

You might wonder: When should I use tags and when should I use whiteboards to organize cards?

The answer is simple: tags can be used to describe an is-a-relationship (e.g., Card A is a #meeting, Card B is a #blog-article, Card C is a #user-research, Card D is a #scientist), while whiteboards are used to describe topics (e.g., Whiteboard X is "History of Science," Whiteboard Y is "Company Growth Strategy," Whiteboard Z is "Nuclear Engineering Research").

When you want to organize a set of highly homogeneous cards, you can start by using tags. When you want to learn a topic deeply, you can create a whiteboard and then drag the cards related to that topic onto the whiteboard to connect and think.

For example, you can create tags such as #scientists (Newton, Einstein), #physics-theories (thermodynamics, relativity, quantum mechanics), #science-events (Solvay Conference, first solar eclipse observation), and visualize the relationships between the cards with these tags on the whiteboard of "history of science," helping you better understand and remember the topics you are learning and researching.

These are the three core concepts of Heptabase. With these concepts, you can now begin your learning and research using Heptabase!

Workflow​

Here are four practical workflows that we believe are very useful for beginners. These workflows are related to thinking, capturing, reviewing, and writing, and can help you get started with Heptabase faster.

Thinking workflow: The best way to acquire knowledge from readings.

  • Target audience: You spend a lot of time reading or taking lectures and want to deeply absorb and understand the knowledge you have learned.

Collecting Workflow: Three ways to make sense of your fleeting thoughts in journal.

  • Target audience: You have scattered thoughts every day that you want to capture, but at the same time, want to be able to delve into these thoughts in depth in the future.

Reviewing Workflow: Two steps to remember what you’ve learned even after a long time.

  • Target audience: You want to better review the notes you have previously written.

Writing Workflow: A simple method to convert your thinking into writing.

  • Target audience: You have spent a lot of time pondering and organizing your ideas on the whiteboard and now want to use these ideas as material to write a well-structured article.

Advanced tutorial​

Advanced Whiteboard’s Features

Advanced Tag’s Features

PDF Annotation & Readwise Integration